Heart Choices: July 2008

Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts

Display Author Bio

Display Instagram Footer

Dark or Light Style

Who Will Be America's Favorite Dancer?

Every Wednesday and Thursday evening, I've been glued to the TV watching the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance?". It's been on for several seasons but this is the first one I got hooked on from the beginning. I've always enjoyed "Dancing With the Stars" but I have to say I think I like this other show better, at least from my perspective. Instead of watching celebrities learning to dance, the dancers in this show have dedicated years of training to become the best dancers they could be. I respect that. It takes discipline and focus...and I'm amazed at how good they are!

Some of the contestants like Twitch seem to have natural ability, a street dancer. Katee is perfect in any dance number she performs but I think Courtney and Chelsie both add their unique and fun personalities to their dancing which makes it very entertaining. I can't believe how young they actually are. Most of the contestants ages range from 18-24 years old. I know at that age I never focused on becoming great in one area of my life, other than my friends and boyfriends.

I'm amazed at the strength of Joshua. He picks his partners up with ease and grace. I laughed when Courtney described him as "He's a man". You've got to watch this video of Twitch and Chelsie's performance of the Samba. It's incredible how this girl can move!

Tonight one guy and one girl will be eliminated and I have no idea who that will be since they are all great. And next week will be the finale...I can't wait to see who will become America's favorite dancer.

So, why am I focusing on dancing? Well, these young dancers have made the choice to focus on becoming the best dancer they can be. They've probably had to eliminate other distractions from their lives to allow the time to focus on their dance. They've spent time training and practicing their steps.

I start thinking about where I spend my time and energy. What do I focus on? How about you? Is there something in your life that you would love to become really good at? I know life happens and we get caught up in responsibilities but if we could do anything, what would it be? Any thoughts from you out there? I'd love to hear!

Earthquake in LA

I first heard the news about the earthquake in LA from a post on Twitter. I was busy working online. I can see why news organizations are active on this site. Ordinary people can report on what's happening when it's happening. I'm really starting to enjoy technology. For a person who is working from home and has a popular sanguine personality, I can tell you it's been fun meeting many interesting and nice people online. And I don't mean the dating kind. After all, I'm a happily married woman.

The news of the LA earthquake immediately brought back memories of 1994; the Northridge Earthquake. I was very close to the epicenter of that one and it had a magnitude of 6.6! I had never experienced an earthquake in my life. After all, I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I was in California to attend a pacemaker seminar sponsored by Medtronics. At the time, I was working as a cardiovascular nurse and I had to keep up to date on programming the latest pacemakers. I found my journal from that date and read it after hearing of the latest quake news.

It was January 17, 1994 and I was rudely awakened from a deep sleep at 4:31 in the morning by a violent shaking of the building. I was staying on the 12th floor of the hotel and the lamps flew off the nightstand, crashing to the floor. The drawers were opening and closing and my watch and earrings were somewhere on the floor. Even though I had never experienced this before there was no doubt in my mind what it was. It seemed to last forever but I guess it was only about 20 seconds or so. Suddenly there was an eerie silence and the building began to sway back and forth and I heard a creaking sound. I remember at the time thinking, is the hotel going to collapse? Needless to say, I survived and we evacuated the hotel. I think I got one of the first flights out of the Burbank airport since they had grounded all planes for a time. I got the T-shirt from the Medtronics company as a souvenir and yes, they did reschedule our conference several months later.
I was amazed at how calm I actually was in the midst of this experience. You never really know how you will react; whether you'll panic or stay calm. I was glad that I was calm under the circumstances and was able to help comfort some of the other more frightened guests at the hotel. We never know when our last day will be but it caused me to think about the choices and priorities in my life; what's really important and to know where I'm going when it's all over. I was thankful it wasn't my time.

Walk For Good Program

Are you ready to exercise? My sneakers are not a very pretty sight. But at least you can see they definitely get used! I've been so busy lately but I do try to get in my 40 minutes at least 5-6 days a week on my Treadmill. I know it can get boring but I have a TV set positioned so I can watch the latest news or cooking show while I'm exercising. I know, my husband laughs at me when I'm watching Giada cook those fabulous Italian meals as I exercise for my health. And did I happen to mention so I look better and don't get fat? After all, we need some motivation.

I mentioned in a previous post that the Cleveland Clinic and Google were teaming up to encourage people to walk. Check it out here. You can download a workout schedule along with videos and articles to support the whole concept. Even though I already exercise, I decided to do this to see how they would educate and try to motivate people to stick with the program for 15 weeks.

For me, Sunday was the day my program was to begin. Now usually I will skip exercise on Sundays but when I noticed the schedule on my Home Page, I figured I'd better "just do it". I had to enter the amount of time and the speed I walked. So I was accountable. I can tell you that having to write it down is a good motivator. They chart your progress which I think is great.

I watched the short video they provided. The doctor used each letter of the word "walk". She said that W was for where or when to walk, A was for attitude and the benefits to walking, L stood for lifestyle and how to make this change and K was for keeping on going with this challenge. There was an article that described the many benefits exercise can offer for your health.

Exercise is a choice and this one is definitely a choice that will help your heart. I know we all keep busy schedules but it is so important. I know I feel so much better when I exercise. I feel like I've accomplished something and I know it increases my metabolic rate so I burn more calories...and I can eat more (I wish).


I'm A Savvy Auntie Charter Member!

I found a great new social network called Savvy Auntie! It's still in beta since it only launched about two weeks ago. I'm a charter member and I'm excited about that! The reason I had to join another social network (like I have so much extra time on my hands) is because it is "the first community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids". Well, I consider myself a cool aunt and I'm also a godmother and I love kids. I also love the cool badges they give you to display. Melanie Notkin is the CEO and I am now following her on Twitter.

I will get to meet other women like me; cool aunts and godmothers. They have forums where we can introduce ourselves and get ideas about things to do with our nieces and nephews...and ways to spoil them. After all, isn't that what being an aunt is all about? Moms aren't supposed to do that but aunts; I say go for it!

My brother and his wife have indulged me for the last twenty years and counting. They have two beautiful daughters Kristin and Katie and they've allowed me to share in so many aspects of their lives. Even though we live on opposite ends of the country with them in Florida and me in Arizona, we've managed to be very involved in each other's lives. From the day they were born, I've treasured so many of their crayon pictures which they sent to Aunt Debbie (I still have them). I took them on trips to Washington DC to teach them about how our government works. But what I really remember from that trip is watching them stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial yelling "Jenny" like in the Forrest Gump movie as they overlooked the reflecting pool. They can be so dramatic!

My husband Greg and I took them to San Francisco and Las Vegas. We were able to introduce them to these wonderful sights and shows for the first time of their lives. Kristin, Katie and I explored southern California. We went to San Diego but they loved Santa Monica and checking out the surfers on the Malibu beach, walking down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and looking for movie stars. Although they are smart and pretty, they are also lots of fun!

They love to kid around and we can say things with each other that we wouldn't repeat to outsiders. When each of them graduated from high school, Aunt Debbie took them on a trip to New York City. We explored the sights of the city and especially loved eating; pizza at Lombardi's in Little Italy, black and whites every morning, hot pretzels on the run and pastrami and rye sandwiches. Obviously, there was no dieting while on vacation.

Broadway plays were a great hit with my nieces. We've seen Mama Mia, Man of La Mancha, The Color Purple, Hairspray, The Spelling Bee and more I can't remember. They always know that when they travel with Aunt Debbie we get to go to church on Sunday. In NY that means the Brooklyn Tabernacle. What a wonderful and exciting experience to hear Pastor Jim Cymbala in person and listen to that beautiful choir. It was such a spiritual and cultural experience worshipping with such a wide variety of people. I believe there are so many ways to have fun but also bring a positive influence and experiences into their lives.

Where are they now? Well, Kristin is so smart. She's in graduate school for speech pathology in Tampa, Florida. And Katie, well she moved to New York City! She is living in Brooklyn and has a job as an apprentice in training at a salon on 5th Avenue. How exciting is that? (Now I know where Aunt Debbie can stay when she visits NYC next time.)

So, how does this relate to Heart Choices? When I was unable to have children of my own, I chose to become involved in the lives of my nieces. Although I couldn't control my circumstances, I chose to find ways to participate in the lives of my loved ones. And believe me, it's been worth it for sure.

So thank you Steve and Barb for sharing your daughters with me!

And now thank you Melanie Notkin for being such an entrepreneur and starting this exciting new social community, Savvy Auntie!


Get In Shape

Do you want to lose weight and get in better shape? It might be easy to get started but it can be very challenging to stick with a program after a week or two, despite all your good intentions. Believe me, I've... been there, done that!

Well this morning on Twitter, I noticed a tweet about Google having an interesting campaign to promote walking. Thanks for the heads up, Steve Rubel. I clicked on the link he provided. Cleveland Clinic and Google are promoting a 15 week walking program. You can track your progress using the gadget that can be uploaded to your iGoogle home page. I love having iGoogle as my home page because I have all of my favorite blogs, weather, news in one spot. So, now I have my "walk for good" progress tracker.

Accountability really helps when you want to stick with an exercise or eating plan. Somehow, having to mark off each day as to whether I stuck with my plan or not causes me to be more loyal to my program. I hate having empty spots when I was supposed to exercise. Zig Ziglar is a great promoter of accountability when starting an exercise program. He recommends making a mark on your daily calendar, noting how much exercise you did for that day. Whenever you see a lot of empty days, you're heading for trouble. Well, now you can keep track right on your computer.

At the end of the program, you can vote on which charity will receive $100,000. So you're walking for good! Each week, Cleveland Clinic will have a new video to help motivate you to continue. We all need some extra motivation and this might be something that will help many of you.

Make the heart choice to take good care of yourself. Check it out!


Go See Mama Mia

Mama Mia was great! My niece Brittney and I went to see the movie today and we both loved it. I didn't know how the movie would compare to the play but I have to say I enjoyed both. In the movie, they had the luxury of shooting the scenes on the Greek Isles and let me tell you, that's one place I want to go before I die! The water looked so clear and the mountains, oh my.

I knew that Meryl Streep was a very talented actress but did you know she can sing too? I thought she did a fabulous job as the mother of the bride. Her voice was great! She was perfect as the carefree hippy from the 60's who never got married and was an independent woman. Now here is her daughter who was getting married and she wanted to know who her father was so he might walk her down the aisle at her wedding. Unbeknownst to her mother, she had read her diary and invited the three men who might be her dad. It created some funny scenes between the three men and Meryl Streep. The music was fabulous! I think one of my favorite parts of the movie was when the three girlfriends were singing "Dancing Queen" and the women of the village left their men and aprons behind and joined them as they sang and danced all the way to the pier at the water's edge. Scenes like that were so memorable! I found myself singing along in my head to many of the ABBA songs that I love.

I love that I was able to spend time with my niece Brittney. She is now 13 years old and is growing up so quickly. She has long wavy hair and I thought she looked a bit like the actress who played the part of the bride in the movie. Making the choice to spend precious time together with the people you love is so important. Since I've been so busy, it's just been too long since we've done this. I had a great afternoon...thanks Brittney!

Mama Mia Opens Today!

Mama Mia is one of my favorite Broadway plays! I've seen it twice in New York with my nieces, Kristin and Katie and each time I loved it more. Any play that can get you up out of your seat, singing and dancing - I love! It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. Here's a picture of Katie before we went into the theater.

I am anxious to see if the movie is good too! I can tell you that the previews look great. I can just imagine the scenery would be spectacular. I am learning to enjoy the moment so I may need to take some time this weekend to go to the movies. I think the last movie I went to see was "Rocky Balboa" with my husband, Greg. I never seem to have enough time. The ABBA music is fabulous! I know all of the words to the songs so it's fun to sing along. At the play, nobody seemed to care because they were too busy singing too. I hope the movie is the same way.

I didn't have a picture of Kristin at the play so I thought I'd upload one of her too. Isn't she cute?

Getting Away From it All

Life can be challenging and overwhelming at times! A vacation to Hawaii might be just what is needed but it's not always easy to get away. I was fortunate to have an invitation from a friend to visit her home and stay overnight. Mind you, she only lives less than an hour away but since I've been so busy working I simply haven't had the time to do this. So, after dropping my husband Greg off at the airport for his business trip to New York, I packed my bag and headed up to the King's house.

John and Helen King are two of my closest friends. A little over a year ago, they decided to move out of the city of Phoenix to a more country atmosphere. It seemed like "timbucktoo" as far as I was concerned but it was only Vistancia, a newly developed area outside of Phoenix in Peoria, AZ. Although I had visited once or twice before, everything is changing in that area and with all of the new development and construction going on, I didn't recognize much of it. I had to call Helen twice because I wasn't sure where to turn. However, I finally arrived!

I hadn't realized how much I had missed my friends. We met at church about 15 years ago and so I used to be able to count on seeing them at least once a week. However, with the move they now go to a different church that is closer to their home. Helen and I had so much to catch up on and we wanted to get it all in. We kept switching from one topic to the next and somehow seemed to understand each other just fine as only good friends can do. By the time John got home from work we had caught up somewhat but still had more ground to cover. John is like a brother to me and the kindest person you ever want to meet. He took us out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant on the Vistancia community grounds. We had fun laughing and talking. They even stopped at their local Safeway grocery store to show me how beautiful it was...and bought me a toothbrush since I forgot mine. I guess I must have needed it!

I've been so busy lately that's it been hard to choose to take moments like this to spend with good friends, to gab and laugh and cry. Choosing to take even an overnight visit to get away from it all helped to refresh my soul and spirit. How grateful I am!

In Memory of My Mom

Today would have been my mom's 79th birthday. Unfortunately, she died a little over three years ago, which was too early as far as I was concerned. But my mom lived with great physical pain the last years of her life and so I'm glad that she is relieved of that discomfort. She was such a special person, even though I know I am biased. When I spoke at her funeral service, many people came up to me to tell me how special she really was. I am so thankful for her influence in my life and I miss her very much.

My mom had such a love for her family. She loved holidays, family get togethers, reading cookbooks and trying new recipes. She loved babies, clothes, hats, playing the piano and singing. She was proud of her Norwegian heritage. She loved to read, do needlepoint, knit and crochet. She loved to play practical jokes and enjoyed laughing. Sometimes it was difficult to know how much pain she was suffering because she refused to give in to it. Instead, she would tell a joke to focus the attention elsewhere. Besides being so beautiful on the outside, my mom was beautiful on the inside. I can have peace about her passing because I know where she is; in the loving hands of the Father. And one day I know I will see her again.

I'm Too Tired to Exercise!

You've probably heard it so many times. You know you need to exercise but...I'm too tired, I don't have the time, I hate to do it. You know all the excuses. You start out the New Year with a plan and somehow by the end of the first week or two...well, you got too busy or too tired or bored with the monotony of exercising. I know the excuses. I've heard them before and I've used them myself!

When I was working as a cardiovascular nurse, I worked with people who had heart disease or were at significant risk. For them, exercise was like a prescription. It was vital to their health and yet they still had some of the same excuses. Often people will be so scared after an initial coronary event that they'll do whatever the medical people tell them. But as time goes on, and they are feeling better, the same excuses come in.

I used to tell the patients to think of exercise as an appointment. Schedule it for a specific time and just do it! If a friend calls and wants to go shopping, do it after your exercise appointment. I would also remind them that you wouldn't leave the house without brushing your teeth. Well, don't leave the house without doing some exercise...unless you're going to the gym.

Believe it or not, exercise gives you more energy. It increases your metabolic rate and improves your endurance over time. Start with ten minutes of walking at a pace that you can tolerate, if you're just starting. Exercise is also a choice; a choice that can impact your life is a positive way for your heart and your overall well being.

So, just do it!!!!
[name=DEBBIE PETRAS] [img=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2CDrwq9-7eo/WV6tdbP-QgI/AAAAAAACfb0/ViqQSnSVaDsMLXyz3AEEzZ5-78luBHOGgCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Debbie%2BFace%2Bblog.JPG] [description=]